Services for Expats and Digital Nomads
By Dan Miller.
The rise in millennials living and traveling abroad has led to a growing market for services catering to expats and digital nomads. These digital consumers can now remotely manage their affairs back at home, giving them the flexibility to travel and live abroad with peace of mind.
If you are planning to move abroad or travel for an extended period, consider the following services to make your adventure easier:
Save yourself lots of time and confusion by hiring a virtual assistant who is fluent in your native language and the language of the country you are moving to. From researching moving companies to making reservations to disputing bills, a virtual assistant can do it all.
UpWork – On UpWork you can find vetted and qualified freelancers, categorized by experience and language skills. For between $10-30 per hour (depending on the county and local wages), you can have someone help you with the intricacies of moving abroad.
Mail and Physical Addresses
Making sure you receive mail—especially official correspondence and notices—while abroad is critical, but often times, expats rely on family or friends back home to receive mail and manage it on their behalf. Here are services to ensure your mail is properly managed so you never miss anything important. Additionally, these services allow you to send faxes or notarize documents while abroad.
Earth Class Mail – Earth Class Mail is a virtual mailbox service that receives your mail and scans and/or forwards it anywhere in the world. In addition, they can deposit checks remotely. ECM can also act as a registered agent as a legal business address while abroad (don’t forget to change the registered address with the state the company is registered in). ECM’s customer support can care of anything you need so you can travel in peace. Currently, Earth Class Mail is only offered in the US, but there are similar services worldwide, like UK Postbox for the UK and Clevvermail for the US, UK, and other countries worldwide. Clevermail is useful to setup a mailbox in the county you are moving/traveling to before you have a permanent address.
Notarize – Notarizing documents—the process of legalizing and certifying documents so they are valid in the US—is one of the largest hassles when living abroad. Normally you must travel to a US Embassy to notarize documents. Instead, recently launched Notarize uses video conferencing technology and a sleek UI that allows you to digitally notarize a document, which is valid in all US states and territories.
HelloFax – HelloFax sets up a fax number and send faxes digitally for you. Many organizations and government entities only accept documents by fax or mail, so this service is crucial for official correspondence.
Mail a Letter – f you need to mail a letter while abroad, use Mail a Letter. The service can mail a letter anywhere in the world. Enter your message in the form fields and upload any documents that need to be included. Simple and effective, with pay-per-mail pricing, Mail a Letter will come in handy during your travels.
Setting up mobile phones in a new country is one of the most important yet aggravating steps. As mentioned above, a virtual assistant can help with this, speaking in the local language to navigate the setup service. But in order to keep your existing numbers active while traveling or moving, here are some services to use:
Tossable Digits – For those who want to keep their US phone numbers while abroad, sign up for Tossable Digits. You port your number to their service and have calls to your phone number forwarded to any number in the world (such as your new phone number abroad). Additionally, you will still receive text messages sent to the number and can respond via the company’s simple web interface. You won’t even have to notify people that you’ve changed your number and if you move back home, you will still have your old number. The cost is only $3.49 per month per number.
WhatsApp – The most widely used global messaging service for your phone, WhatsApp is the simplest way to communicate with new people and people back at home. And when combined with the Tossable Digits service, you can keep your account registered with your phone number from home.
H2O Wireless – When traveling back to the US, it’s far more cost effective to have a local SIM card instead of using your new international phone. H2O Wireless has an easily rechargeable SIM card that uses AT&T’s GSM Spectrum, which is compatible with most existing phones around the world. Setup the service before you leave the US so you have the SIM card ready to switch in when you land at the airport.
Money, Money, Money
Transferring and withdrawing money abroad can be complicated and expensive. Here are a few services to simplify the process:
TransferWise – TransferWise is the best way to send payments in foreign currencies, directly from your bank to a person or business. All transactions are done at the mid-market exchange rate, which is generally the best available for retail customers. In particular, transfers up to $3,000 can be done via ACH bank transfer, which allows for seamless digital transactions. TransferWise is useful for transfers a little as $20 and up to $100,000, although other services are recommended for transfers above $25,000.
CurrencyTransfer – CurrencyTransfer is an excellent service for high-value foreign currency transfers (minimum of $5,000). CurrencyTransfer offers a digital platform for brokers to bid on your exchange, leading to competitive best exchange rates for users. CurrencyTransfer is useful for large ticket items such as property purchases or automobiles.
Chip & PIN Credit Card – Don’t want your credit card to be declined when at a European toll booth? Even though US credit cards now have a chip, it does not mean it will be valid for European or global payment systems. Make sure to order a credit card that has “Chip & PIN” capability, meaning in the case the machine does not allow signatures, you will be able to enter a PIN instead. Here’s a list of companies that offer Chip & PIN.
Fidelity ATM/Debit Card – Just as important as transferring money is withdrawing funds without paying fees. Fidelity has an ATM/Debit card that reimburses ATM fees worldwide and offers great exchange rates when withdrawing in foreign currencies. This means you will only need one card worldwide to withdraw funds and avoid ATM or exchange fees every time.
Internet and TV
Having reliable internet while living abroad is important for any person, especially millennials and digital nomads. These services help you stay connected:
TEP Wireless – TEP Wireless sells a small wireless hotspot that connects to cellular data network all over the world. With the ability to connect up to five devices, a TEP hotspot is great while traveling or for while you wait for internet to be installed in your new residence.
eero – Eero is a critical product for those needing a high speed wireless connection. Eero is a new wireless router that creates a mesh network to easily cover and transmit signals throughout your entire residence. You can buy as many devices as you need to cover the house—eero recommends starting with three. The devices will communicate with each other to create a seamless wireless connection in all corners of our house. It’s expensive, but worth it if you need high speed internet. FYI: eero currently only ships within the US, so make sure to order one before your move.
Slingbox – Slingbox connects to your cable TV or satellite receiver at home and lets you to stream the signal anywhere in the world, on a phone, computer or TV. Slingbox is the best way to watch content from home while you’re travelling without running into the geographical restriction that often limit viewing content outside your country.
If you’re thinking about moving abroad, don’t hesitate! Just use these services to remain connected anywhere in the world. Safe travels!
Dan is the Founder of Myrtle Grove Ventures, a global investment holding company with interests in technology, finance and real estate. At the company, Dan focuses on strategy, business development, fundraising and public relations.
Dan previously co-founded and served as President and Director of Fundrise, the first and largest US real estate crowdfunding platform. Dan is also Managing Partner of WestMill Capital, a Washington D.C. based real estate development company. He remains involved with Western Development Corporation, his family’s real estate organization which has developed more than 20 million square feet in its 48-year history.
Dan graduated from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania as a submatriculant with a dual B.S. and M.B.A. Dan lives with his wife in London, UK.